Ćwik v. Poland (Application no. 31454/10)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgment.


78.  In the present case, the applicant claimed that the criminal proceedings against him had been unfair on the grounds that the court had admitted into evidence the information extracted from K.G., a third party, that had been obtained as a result of the ill-treatment to which K.G. had been subjected by private individuals, members of a gang. 

79.  The Court notes that a particular set of facts in the present case is different from those in a series of cases which led it to formulate the rule that the admission of statements, obtained as a result of torture or of other illtreatment in breach of Article 3, into evidence in criminal proceedings rendered the proceedings as a whole unfair (see paragraphs 74-75 and 77 above). A common thread of all those cases was the involvement of State agents in obtaining impugned statements from the accused or from a third party. 

80.  The question before the Court, which has not arisen before, is whether the above-mentioned rule may be applicable to the instant case in which information was obtained from a third party as a result of illtreatment inflicted by private individuals, even where there was no evidence of involvement or acquiescence of State actors. 

88.  The Court has already established that K.G.’s utterances were recorded while he was subjected to illtreatment to which Article 3 is applicable (see paragraph 84 above). It reiterates that the use in criminal proceedings of evidence obtained as a result of a person’s treatment in breach of Article 3 – irrespective of whether that treatment is classified as torture, inhuman or degrading treatment – made the proceedings as a whole automatically unfair, in breach of Article 6. This is irrespective of the probative value of the evidence and irrespective of whether its use was decisive in securing the defendant’s conviction (see Gäfgen, cited above, §§ 166 and 173 and the cases referred to therein; and the case-law referred in paragraphs 74-75 and 77 above). 

89.  The Court considers that the above-mentioned principle is equally applicable to the admission of evidence obtained from a third party as a result of ill-treatment proscribed by Article 3 when such ill-treatment was inflicted by private individuals, irrespective of the classification of that treatment. 


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